Populist Dick Durbin Says Donald Trump Betrays American Workers

amnesty Durbin
AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta

Democrat Sen. Dick Durbin is criticizing President Donald Trump for failing to protect blue-collar Americans from companies that prefer to hire H-2B visa workers.

“President Trump promised to put American workers first, but his Administration has dramatically increased the number of guest worker visas” in the H-2B program during 2017 and 2018, Durbin said January 16.

“This hurts American & immigrant workers. Read my bipartisan letter warning the Administration not to repeat this mistake again this year,” Durbin said via Twitter.

The tweet included a bipartisan letter that urged administration officials not to award more than 66,000 H-2B visas in 2020 to landscapers, forestry firms, resorts, and other seasonal companies. The 2020 budget deal includes language allowing officials at the Department of Homeland Security to print many thousands of extra H-2B work permits — thus helping politicians get those extra work permits for their local employers.

But Durbin’s populist concern about visa workers is contradicted by his consistent support for mass migration, Mark Krikorian, the director of the Center for Immigration Studies, told Breitbart News in an interview. “As hypocritical as Sen. Durbin is, he only able to make this point because President Trump is in favor of guest workers … and Durbin is exposing a vulnerability [for Trump] that the Democrats would be stupid not to exploit” in the 2020 election, Krikorian said.

For example, in Trump’s January 10 interview with Fox TV host Laura Ingraham, Krikorian said that the president “was saying that foreign companies are opening plants here, creating jobs, and that we need foreign workers to take these jobs.” He added, “What is the point of foreign investment if we have to import foreign workers for those factories?”

Krikorian continued, “What [Trump] is saying is that it is the government’s job to make it easier for employers to find workers. … On which side of the [employee vs. employer] scale does the government put its thumb? Trump is a businessman, so his view is that government should put its thumb on the side of employers so that workers have to hustle to find a job. That is the exact opposite of what Trump was about in 2016:

Krikorian also noted that Durbin’s bipartisan letter was mostly about the welfare of foreign workers, not American workers. It said:

Studies have shown that the H-2B visa program leaves immigrant workers vulnerable to wage theft, abuse, and trafficking. Because they are often at the mercy of their employers, H-2B workers may also be too scared to speak out against poor working conditions. They may also have difficulties accessing the justice system to protect themselves from employer retaliation if they do speak out. These realities of the H-2B program, as it operates today, incentivize unscrupulous employers to hire H-2B workers instead of American workers and create poor working conditions for immigrant workers and American workers alike.

But the bipartisan letter did include a brief mention of American employees. “While we understand the needs of employers who legitimately rely on seasonal H-2B workers if American workers cannot meet the demand, we continue to have concerns about the harmful impact that the program has on both American workers and foreign guest workers,” said the letter.

The letter was signed by Durbin, as well as Sen. Tom Cotton (R-AR), Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA):

Durbin’s charge is a populist-style strike against Trump in the 2020 election amid growing criticism of Trump for allowing U.S. companies to outsource Americans’ blue-collar and white-collar jobs.

The jobs are outsourced via a huge variety of visa-worker programs, including the H-1B, OPT, H4 EAD, CPT, H-2A, J-1, TN, and L-1 programs.

Those programs keep roughly 1.5 million foreign graduates in Americans’ white-collar jobs and at least 500,000 foreign workers in labor, agricultural, and blue-collar jobs. The visa workers also are used to transfer white-collar jobs to India and to avoid company investment in the labor-saving machinery that allows Americans to earn higher wages.

Despite campaigning against the H-1B outsourcing program in 2016, Trump has done little to reduce the program. For example, his deputies blocking a regulation that would cancel the H4 EAD program, which gives work permits to the spouses of H-1B workers. They are also defending the OPT program from a lawsuit by American workers. In addition, his deputies have submitted to congressional pressure to print more H-2B visas for the foreign laborers sought by American landscapers and other employers.

Durbin’s populist slam on Trump is also a poor fit for Durbin’s own track record, which includes determined advocacy of far greater numbers of migrants.

For example, Durbin is working with GOP Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) to pass a bill that would allow an unlimited number of foreign migrants to get endlessly renewable work permits and so flood into U.S. workplaces.

Their S.386 bill would cut a hole through the immigration process by allowing an unlimited number of Indian green card applicants to get renewable work permits just 270 days after they are sponsored for green cards by U.S. employers. The renewable work permits would allow the Indian migrants to compete against Americans for any job, years before they actually get a green card. Durbin’s easier “Early Filing” or “Early Adjustment” path would allow millions of foreign graduates to walk into the United States via the S.386 bill.

However, Durbin’s version of S.386 has been quietly blocked by GOP senators.

The GOP senators tell donors that they welcome the many visa workers, but they quietly fear Democrats will use the large population of visa workers to justify passage of a law that would allow the workers to get citizenship and vote for Democrat candidates.

Overall, Durbin is a consistent advocate for the mass migration of foreign populations into the United States. “There has to be an orderly process here, a process that really accommodates the world’s ambition to be part of the future of America,” he said in November, although “we cannot open our doors to everyone who wants to come through tomorrow”:


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